24 January 2015

News Story: China 3rd in Global Firepower ranking - Vzglyad

China was ranked third, behind the US and Russia, in the latest Global Firepower ranking published on Jan. 21 by Moscow-based online newspaper Vzglyad, reports China's nationalistic tabloid Global Times.

The US Army topped the ranking while Russia came in second. Following China was India in fourth, the UK in fifth and France in sixth. These were followed by Germany, Turkey, South Korea, and Japan.

Read the full story at Want China Times

News Story: Taiwan Navy takes delivery of new home-grown supply vessel

The Taiwan Navy formally took delivery Friday of a new locally designed supply vessel that it said will help enhance Taiwan's maritime combat capabilities.

Defense Minister Yen Ming co-hosted the delivery ceremony in a harbor in Kaohsiung, where the vessel was formally turned over to the Navy from local shipbuilder CSBC Corp.

Called the Panshih, the new vessel will be used to transport fuel, ammunition and other supplies to support warships in wartime.

In peacetime, it will be mainly used to carry supplies, conduct maritime rescue missions, and provide humanitarian assistance, the Navy said.

The Navy only has one supply vessel currently in service, the Wuyi.

Read the full story at Want China Times

News Story: KAI's Korea Utility Helicopter successfully achieves first test flight

CGI of the finished Helicopter in action

Korea Aerospace Industries said Tuesday, January 20, that its Surion-based helicopter variant for the Korean Marine Corps completed its first test flight. KAI has led the project to develop the helicopter by investing $713m since July 2013. “With the successful test flight, we are confident of completing the development by end-2015 as scheduled,’’ the flight manufacturer said in a press release.

The first flight test with two test flight pilots and two technicians onboard took wing for about 30 minutes. Test items included ground tests, including forward flight, backward flight and a change of direction as well as hovering flight and a change of direction after a rise up to the 80-feet above the ground. All the tests were completed successfully.

Read the full story at AirRecognition

Editorial: The Philippines, Malaysia, and Vietnam Race to South China Sea Defense Modernization

Vietnam Navy Frigate (File Photo)

By Carl Thayer

Malaysia, the Philippines, and Vietnam are all striving to bolster their maritime capabilities.

Over the last two months there have been several significant developments in improving the maritime capabilities of three Southeast Asian states: the Philippines, Malaysia, and Vietnam.
The Philippines
In December 2014 President Benigno Aquino enacted the 2015 General Appropriations Act, approving governmental expenditure of Pesos (P) 2.6 trillion ($59 billion).
On December 17, Rear Admiral Caesar Taccad, head of the Philippine Navy’s weapons systems, announced that as part of his country’s 15-year P90 billion force modernization program, P39 billion ($885 million) would be allocated for the procurement of three guided missile fast attack craft, two guided missile stealth frigates, and two anti-submarine helicopters. The admiral also indicated that the Philippines was planning to acquire three submarines in future.
Admiral Taccad reported that France, South Korea, and Spain had submitted tenders for the frigates. Shipyards in Taiwan, India, Spain, France, and South Korea were in the running to provide the three multi-purpose missile attack craft, while Indonesia and Italy submitted bids to provide the two helicopters.
According to Admiral Taccad, “The events in the West Philippines Sea (South China Sea) actually gave some urgency on the acquisition.”
Five days later, the Philippines took possession of two AgustaWestland AW109 Power maritime helicopters. This particular model is capable of operating from small ships at sea and performing a variety of naval missions such as surface surveillance, search and rescue, economic zone protection, and maritime security.
On December 23, Captain Alberto Carlos, Chief of Naval Staff for Logistics, revealed that AgustaWestland was the sole eligible bidder for the two anti-submarine helicopters. AgustaWestland offered to sell its AW159 Wildcat, helicopters that can operate from stealth frigates.
On January 9, the Department of National Defense was allocated P 144.5 billion ($3.3 billion) in funding. On the same day, the Philippines signed a contract with the U.S. Navy for the purchase of two used C-130 Hercules military transport aircraft. This will bring the total number of mission-ready C-130s to five.
Finance for this purchase is being assisted by $20 million in U.S. foreign military financing plus $35.6 million from the Philippines. The Hercules are expected to be delivered next year.  The new Hercules transport craft will enhance the ability of the Philippines to deploy forces quickly for territorial defense and humanitarian operations. 

Read the full story at The Diplomat

Editorial: China's National Security Strategy

By Shannon Tiezzi

The Politburo, headed by Xi Jinping, emphasized the severity of threats facing China’s national security.

On January 23, the Politburo of the Communist Party of China (CPC) adopted the outline of a national security strategy. Chinese media reports did not go into detail about the strategy, but underlined the sense of urgency running through the document. The new strategy, without going into specifics, warned of “unpredictable” and “unprecedented” dangers facing China, both at home and abroad. To face these challenges, Xinhua said, “national security must be under the absolute leadership of the CPC’s efficient and unified command.”
While Xinhua’s official summary didn’t provide details, it gave a general sense of the issues Beijing is most concerned about: a shifting international environment; profound economic and social changes domestically; proposed reforms entering a critical period; and a wealth of “social contradictions.” Notice that the vast majority of these concerns are domestic issues, continuing a long-standing tradition wherein CCP leaders see China’s greatest challenges coming from within. In fact, the bulk of the Xinhua piece focused not on the national security strategy, but on the CCP’s determination to continue to fight against “undesirable work styles,” a key part of the anti-corruption campaign. 

Read the full story at The Diplomat

Editorial: Is China Building a Base Near the Senkakus?

By Prashanth Parameswaran

New satellite imagery confirms that it is, with more clarification on specifics.

Satellite imagery analysis by IHS Jane’s released on January 22 confirms Japanese media reports last month that China is building a military base on islands near the disputed Senkaku/Diaoyu islands.
The analysis, which compared images captured from October 2013 to October 2014, shows a heliport with 10 landing pads being built in the center of the main Nanji Island, part of a group of islands that are part of Zhejiang province and are located about 300 kilometers (190 miles) away from the disputed Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands.
However, in contrast to earlier media reports, the analysis shows no signs of an airstrip under construction, only existing radar and communication sites. Jane’s also notes that without an airfield currently in place, the closest one would be at a base in Luqiao 380 km away from the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands, which is home to the PLA Navy Air Force’s East Sea Fleet 4th Division, 12th Regiment, which operates Chengdu J-10A fighter aircraft. 

Read the full story at The Diplomat

Editorial: Is Germany Still in the Race for Australia’s Biggest Arms Deal of the Century?

TKMS Type 216 Submarine Diagram

By Franz-Stefan Gady

Angela Merkel is aggressively pushing for Germany to win a contract to build 12 submarines.

Tomorrow’s issue of Der Spiegel features a story on Angela Merkel’s efforts to secure one of the largest arms deals in Germany’s history. The article discusses the, according to a German government source, “outstanding” opportunity for the German arms industry should the German manufacturer ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems (TKMS) be awarded the contract to build up to twelve new submarines for the Australian Royal Navy.  TKMS’s offer, the 4,000 tons HDW class 216 is a submarine, specifically designed to meet Canberra’s needs, which is looking to replace its aging Collins-class submarine fleet.
The article further notes that German Chancellor Angela Merkel has already campaigned for the estimated $16 billion weapons deal (other sources cite an indicative price of $20 billion) during the November G-8 meeting in Brisbane, Australia last year, where she met with Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott. She acknowledged Japan to be Germany’s biggest competitor in winning the contract. Yet, Merkel pointed out that Germany is a neutral arbiter in the Asia-Pacific region, whereas were Australia to choose a Japanese manufacturer, tensions could rise with China. “You are right,” was the terse response of the Australian Prime Minister. 

Read the full story at The Diplomat

Editorial: Beijing's Xinjiang Policy - Striking Too Hard?

By Gabe Collins

What the data reveals about the ongoing insurgency in Xinjiang.

China’s long-running (PDF) Uighur insurgency has flared up dramatically of late, with more than 900 recorded deaths in the past seven years. This puts the conflict’s cumulative death toll in a range similar to that of The Troubles in Ireland or the ETA/Basque separatist violence in Spain. Russia’s longstanding conflicts in the Caucasus share elements with China’s Xinjiang troubles, and also show how harsh repression actually intensifies conflicts and encourages metastasis into other previously peaceful parts of the country.
Kinetic repression, restrictions on worship and religious attire, and a police state response alone will not placate the Uighurs in Xinjiang. The precise set of methods necessary to achieve peace is not yet clear. However, the consequences of failing to identify and employ a more holistic, less inflammatory set of policies to pacify Xinjiang are quite clear: continued violence in the province, as well as periodic substantial terror attacks elsewhere in China, such as the bloody Kunming train station attack of 1 March 2014. 

Read the full story at The Diplomat

23 January 2015

AUS: One month and no answers




Today marks the one month anniversary since Tony Abbott’s Cabinet reshuffle which saw David Johnston dumped as Defence Minister and Kevin – ‘no interest in defence’ – Andrews parachuted into the position.

This reshuffle has caused nothing but further delays to defence industry policy, where workers in our shipbuilding industry are facing up to 1400 job losses due to the inaction of this dysfunctional Government.

Labor has concerns this reshuffle will cause a delay in the delivery of the next Defence White Paper due in March, causing a domino effect and delaying decisions regarding important future defence acquisitions.

AUS: Day of reckoning for new Defence Minister

Defence Minister Kevin Andrews


New Defence Minister Kevin Andrews will need to work hard to mend the bruised relationship between the Abbott Government and workers at the Australian Submarine Corporation (ASC), as he visits the shipyards for the first time since taking on the role.

The relationship was significantly damaged when the previous Defence Minister, David Johnston, attacked them saying;
“I wouldn’t trust them (ASC) to build a canoe.”
Defence Minister David Johnston,Senate Question Time,25 November 2014
This extraordinary attack by the former Minister was a disgraceful outburst which undermined the skilled workers at ASC and displayed a great lack of respect for the important work done by ASC.